We've Always been

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sidebar

07
Tue, Apr

Tools
Typography

By Maurice Fitzpatrick, March 17, 2020

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, in opposition in the last Dáil, was apt to point out the contradiction of having an apparently strong economy and an utterly dysfunctional health system. For example, she stated in the Dáil last October that September 2019 had been “the worst September on record in terms of hospital overcrowding…[in which] 10,641 families…had to see a loved one suffer the indignity of a hospital trolley”. In the general election, the electorate demanded better. Now, irrespective of which parties form the government of the 33rd Dáil, the coronavirus crisis damages whatever chances existed of their demands being met.

Naturally, the health system takes on a heightened significance during a pandemic, and we could hardly be more vulnerable in this respect. Irish hospitals, even in normal times, leave patients, staff and visitors alike wondering if they will get out alive. At the time of writing, there are several hundred cases of coronavirus in Ireland, but if those numbers rise to Italian or Iranian proportions, our hospital system will collapse.

Such a collapse would trigger the necessity for emergency State aid and, consequently, major State borrowing. Yet the application of money transfers from Europe would happen against the backdrop of major changes in the European Union, changes that are already happening. If the coronavirus pandemic intensifies and lasts well into 2020, the recession that is resulting from it will pose a profound challenge to European integrity. The Common Market in Europe; the Schengen system of free travel across Europe’s borders; the right to live and work in another European country; the natural infrastructural connections between, and through, European countries: all are either suspended until further notice or hugely curtailed. Hard borders have emerged all over Europe. It is the right call, given the escalating pandemic that has infected most countries in the world, but it means that there is a deep recession ahead.

Given that nobody has worked out a way to buck the economic cycle of prosperity and accompanying recession, the wilful cessation of the world’s economic wheels that we are seeing is all the more remarkable. As it is unprecedented to stop the wheels of the economies like this, it may take an unprecedented stimulus to get them turning again.

Universal Basic Income, which has been piloted in small-scale experiments across the world, is now effectively being introduced nationally and extensively in Italy. The Italian government has rightly perceived coronavirus as disabling Italian citizens from earning money and it has responded by scrapping household bills, taxes and mortgage repayments. This is the reverse of European governments’ responses to the 2008 sub-prime crash when they—at the behest of the European Central Bank—recapitalised zombie banks from the taxpayers’ coffers and let people suffer. Italian Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli last week stated that he would raise the budget deficit to 2.2%; it is now looking more like 3% and growing. Clearly, Italy intends to act unilaterally by prioritising the well-being of Italians over European economic rules.

Again, in contrast to 2008 and its aftermath when the bigger western European powers imposed austerity programmes on what it termed the ‘PIIGS’ (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain), governments are taking pre-emptive measures to ensure societies remain liquid. Italy—and other European countries drastically affected by coronavirus such as Spain could be next—has called the bluff of the European Central Bank in dismissing austerity and timorous State intervention out of hand. The ECB will have to accept that countries such as Italy acted as they had to, irrespective of the impact on the euro currency.  

Many European countries, including Ireland, have not fully recovered from the last global recession in 2008. It is true that Ireland’s GDP suggests exceptionally good times, but these gains have been very unequally spread. No patience remains to undergo another long recession while an elite benefits from the ‘recovery’. Coronavirus may be about to reveal this fundamental shift in European societies.

Europe has promised 40 billion euro from the European Investment Bank, which will go some way towards assisting people throughout Europe in these rattled times. But the credit ease and ‘debt holiday’ required from this mass stoppage of work and earning requires forbearance that is well beyond European norms. Yet what is the alternative?

Matters get more complex still when it comes to relations within the private sector, particularly in the rental market. In Ireland, hundreds of thousands of people find themselves suddenly unemployed. It is a matter of weeks before a huge constituency fails to meet their rental payments and they will seek the government to provide a solution. However, the Irish government is a ‘caretaker’ government, a transitional arrangement until a new government is formed. Recently in the Irish Times barrister Frank Callanan argued that the authority of a caretaker government to implement emergency measures is questionable according to the Constitution. Doubtless, the government would acknowledge this, and also that its authority to require a moratorium of private landlords is dubious. But, again, what is the alternative?

Many of our industries cannot function without the ‘open economy’ that Irish politicians are so fond of lauding. Tourism in Ireland, for example, could be faced with a complete wipe out this year. Galway City, after five years of hard work and concerted effort, won the 2020 European Capital of Culture accolade, which provides for generous funding to stage cultural events throughout the year—yet mass gatherings are now banned. Foreign Direct Investment, which generates circa 30 billion euro per annum, will remain a central part of our economy but it will be significantly hampered by the closure of borders and travel bans: 80% of FDI comes from the US. All in all, this is probably the most depressing St. Patrick’s Day period in living memory.

SUBSCRIBE to our Print Edition - Keep the News Coming!

Choose

April Edition 2020

March 2020 Edition

Shop Irish!

ARTIST
Bryan Boylan
ASSISTED LIVING
Aishling Companion Homecare
Homecare Angels

ATTORNEY

Murphy & Smith Ltd
Dwyer and Coogan
Healy Law

Miller & McGing Law Firm 773-467-8000
BAGPIPERS & DRUM CLASSES

Chicalba Bagpiping

BAKERY
Doughs Guys Bakery
BANKS
First National Bank of Brookfield

Marquette National Bank
BANQUETS
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
BEAUTY SALONS
Appearances Pk Ridge
 847-825-7615
Hair by O'Hara & Friends-Hometown
BOOKS - IRISH
TheIrishBookClub.com
BRICK REPAIR/REPLACEMENT
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CARPET CLEANER
Sheila's Carpet Shampooligans
CATERERS
Harrington's Catering & Deli
Unforgettable Edibles
CHARITABLE ORG

Mercy Home
IrishCommunityServices
CAULKING & SEALING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CHIMNEY REPAIR

Shamrock Tuckpointing

CHOIR
Irish Heritage Singers
COTTAGE RENTAL
Cottage Mary Rose
Dingle Cottage: 312-399-8793
Gurtenard Hse - Listowel Co Kerry
CRUISES

Andy Cooney
Phil Coulter Tranquility Cruise
CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

Chicago Gaelic Park

iBAM!
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Irish Am Society Co Will
Irish Heritage Singers
DANCE SCHOOLS

McNulty School of Dance
Trinity Irish Dance
ENTERTAINERS

Chicalba Bagpiping

Paddy Homan
The Larkin Brothers
Catherine O'Connell
Joe McShane
Whiskey Mick Irish Rock
FESTIVALS

Arlington Heights
Dublin

IAHC
Indianapolis
Kansas City
Milwaukee
Naperville Aug 7-8 2020
FINANCIAL PLANNER

Corrigan Financial
FLORIST

Garland Flowers
FUNERAL HOMES

Blake-Lamb

Gibbon's Funeral Homes
Roberty J Sheehy & Sons

GAELIC YOUTH FOOTBALL
773-719-2847 Jerry
GARBAGE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
GOLF COURSES
Palos Golf
GRAPHIC DESIGN

Laura Coyle 773-343-7268
GROCERIES/MEAT

O'Connor's Market

Winston's

HOTELS

The Irish Cottage 1 866 CU-IRISH
HUMAN RESOURCE CONSULTANT
James Fitzgerald
IMMIGRATION SERVICES

IrishCommunityServices
IMPORT SHOPS
Ann's Irish Gifts

Celtica Gifts 773-784-7712
Donegal Imports
Gaelic Imports
Irish Shop
INSURANCE

American Family-Joan McKee
Riordan Insurance
JEWELERS

H. Watson
MUSIC SCHOOLS
Chgo Academy of Piping/Drumming
Irish Music School of Chgo
MYSTERY SHOPPER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654

PARTY PLANNERS
That Special Event

PENNY WHISTLES
Michael Burke
PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURING
Memoirs for Me
PHYSICAL THERAPY
SPORTS-ORTHOPEDIC
Athletex
PLASTERING

William McNulty & Son
708-386-2951
PUB/RESTAURANT RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar
PUBS & RESTAURANTS

Ashford House
The Celtic Knot
Clancy's Pizza Pub
Corcorans
Emerald Loop
Fifth Province
Fiddler's Hearth
The Galway Arms
James Joyce Irish Pub
Lizzie McNeill's
Mickey Finn's Brewery
Peggy Kinnanes
R
ed Apple Buffet
Six Penny Bit
Vaughan's Pub

REALTORS
Dreamtown - Patrick Carney
Koenig & Strey
Mary Ellen Considine  773-769-2500
RESTAURANT/HOSPITALITY RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654
SPORTS CLUBS

Chgo Celtic Soccer Club
stbrigids.chicago.gaa.ie
ST PATRICK'S DAY
St Patrick's Day Parade
SWEATERS

Anne's Irish Knits
TABLE RUNNERS
All 32 Counties
TELEVISION-CABLE

Irish Journal 708-366-4665
THEATRE
Late Nite Catechism
TOURIST ATTRACTION
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
TRAVEL /TOURS
Authentic Irish Tours
BestIrishTours.com
Gadabout Travel
Shay Clarke - Inter Trav Corp
TUCKPOINTING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
VACATION RENTALS
Dingle Cottage
Cork - Cottage from $450 weekly
Don at 608-274-1180
WASTE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
WEDDING PLANNER
That Special Event

WEDDING VENUES
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Palos Country Club
WOOD FLOOR SPECIALIST
The Sexton Group

Irish Ann

Advertisers

Paying For
Instructions

Irish Book Club

Advertising Rates 2019